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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mardi Gras and Markets: A Weekend Preview

Posted By on Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 12:33 PM

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Looking for some weekend fun?

The Queen City hosts Magic Hat Mardi Gras on Saturday. Though the nighttime debauchery associated with this annual event isn't exactly kid-friendly, the parade certainly is. Families with kids 10 and under can watch the floats roll by at 3 p.m. from the Little Jambalaya Viewing Zone, located on the north side of Main Street, between South Champlain and Battery Streets. And before the Grand Parade, performances by the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus at 1:45 and Sambatucada at noon and 1:45 on Church Street are sure to please spectators of all ages. 

If big crowds and catching beads doesn't appeal, check out the Vermont Rails Model Railroad Show at the Champlain Valley Expo from 10 to 4 on Saturday. Choo-choo enthusiasts can browse the locomotive-themed wares and watch model trains round the tracks. An added bonus: children under 6 are free.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Home Cookin': Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Posted By on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Kids chopping.
  • Kids chopping.
Over a month ago, I took an Asian-themed cooking class with friends at Healthy Living. For the appetizer portion of the meal, we made Vietnamese spring rolls with loads of veggies and marinated tofu. They were light, delicious and way easier to execute then I had imagined. That night, I made a mental note that I would try to adapt the dish for a family meal in the near future.

I finally got around to it this week. My husband, Jeff, and I had just spent two days eating our way through Montréal, so I was looking for a healthy dinner that our kids, Mira, 6, and Theo, 4, would also enjoy. Spring rolls were the perfect solution.

Food prep was a family affair. The kids were totally engaged in peeling and chopping cucumbers, peppers, cabbage and more into bite-size pieces. Jeff cooked up some chicken breasts that had been soaking in Soy Vay, an amazing Asian marinade, for about an hour. 

The kids soaked the stiff rice-paper wrappers to soften them, filled them and then rolled them up — surprisingly easy tasks for little hands. Mira and Theo loved custom-designing their rolls, choosing exactly how many carrots, cucumbers and chicken pieces would go into each one. Jeff and I added avocado and cilantro to up the flavor and texture of the little 
Prepped ingredients
  • Prepped ingredients
packets of goodness.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bump on a Blog: Belly Rubs

Posted By on Tue, Feb 25, 2014 at 8:20 AM

Chillin' with my 29-week bump on an 18-degree day at Top Notch Spa last week.
  • Chillin' with my 29-week bump on an 18-degree day at Top Notch Spa last week.
When I first got pregnant, people warned me that once my belly was big, I'd start getting unwanted looks, touches and comments from strangers. 

Now that I am sporting what is obviously a pregnant belly — not just a lumpy midriff leftover from lunch — I'm starting to understand what they meant. When you're creating another human life, everyone around you becomes interested.

People give you conspiratorial looks every time they catch you with food in your hands. They offer daily updates on the growth of your midsection. They ask you how you're sleeping. And yes, sometimes they touch you.

The thing is, I kind of like it. 

And I get why people do it. It's exciting to see a woman with a giant belly! Under what other circumstances do you get to watch a woman's life change before your eyes?

Women who've had babies — and the partners who supported them through those 40 weeks — get nostalgic when they look at you. They want to tell you what it was like for them. They want to induct you into the secret society of Women Who Know. 

And people who've never had a baby stare, too, because, let's face it: Pregnancy is insane. One day you're a normal-looking woman; before long you're bursting at the seams with a live human creature. 

Here's what I love about sporting a bump that seems to have become part of the public domain:

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Book Review: Meet Wild Boars

Posted By on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 1:42 PM

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Plenty of children’s books have big ideas to ponder and inspirational messages to glean, but sometimes kids — and parents — crave something a little lighter. If you’re in the mood for a silly read, and don’t mind a little scatological humor, Meet Wild Boars by Meg Rosoff and Sophie Blackall is an excellent choice.

“Beware of this book,” reads a warning on the front flap. “It is full of wild boars! They are dirty and smelly, bad-tempered and rude, so whatever you do, do not try to make friends with them.” My kids — Mira, 6, and Theo, 3 — were enticed from the get go.

On the first page we meet Boris, Morris, Horace and Doris, beasts so insufferable that they will assault you with their tusks, stomp on your treats and make nasty smells, even when you are polite to them.

Doris is the worst. “She is stinkier than a stinkpot turtle. She is uglier than an ugli fruit. She is bossier than a Bossysaurus,” Rosoff writes. As I read, Theo studied the small illustration of the Bossysaurus, wondering aloud whether such a creature really exists.

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

From Carnivals to Creative Reuse: A Weekend Preview

Posted By on Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at 1:12 PM

Many schools are on vacation next week, meaning this weekend begins a long stretch of trying to figure out how to entertain the kids. No plans yet? Never fear. We've rounded up indoor and outdoor events on Saturday and Sunday that will surely please your brood. 

Recycled art - COURTESY OF CSWD
  • Courtesy of CSWD
  • Recycled art
Preschoolers meet up with friends for a playdate at Shelburne Farms on Saturday morning. They'll enjoy theme-based indoor activities at a leisurely pace.

High school students used materials bound for landfills to create decorative and practical art objects ranging from lion heads to dresses to Scrabble boards. Their work is on display at the Chittenden Solid Waste District's Creative ReUse Showcase Open House at Frog Hollow in Burlington.

Does your family have energy to burn? Active kids jump around on bouncy castles at Burlington's University Mall on Saturday. 

Families learn about the mysterious lives of nocturnal flyers during the Owl Festival at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science in Quechee. Hands-on activities and games abound, and the day wraps up with a fire and hot chocolate. Visitors go home with a free snowy-owl poster.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Home Cookin': Banana & Cranberry Baked Oatmeal

Posted By on Wed, Feb 19, 2014 at 11:45 AM

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Frigid winter mornings call for a hot, comforting breakfast. This baked oatmeal will warm you up and keep your stomach from grumbling until lunch.

I found a recipe for strawberry baked oatmeal at Inspired Taste and have been making different versions of it ever since. It's delicious with strawberries, but our favorite so far has been the banana and cranberry variation below.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Bump on a Blog: Insomnia Reading List

Posted By on Mon, Feb 17, 2014 at 9:25 PM

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One of the first things I did after I found out I was pregnant was dash to Barnes & Noble to browse their pregnancy section. I wanted to devour everything. I sat on the floor and thumbed through the illustrated day-by-day guides, the memoirs, the tirades. More than an hour later, completely overwhelmed, I came home with just one book, which I bought simply because it sounded familiar: What to Expect When You're Expecting.

Since then, the books have piled up. In the beginning, I read voraciously. Then, in the second trimester, thankful to be feeling a bit better and eager to think about anything other than pregnancy, I stopped.

But last week, I entered a new and, frankly, ridiculous, phase of pregnancy: insomnia. I was exhausted all day, but when night rolled around, my brain kicked into hyperdrive and wouldn't let me sleep.

I passed the hours each night watching "Orange is the New Black." I read the New Yorker cover to cover and found myself surprisingly riveted by a fascinating story about long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad. I listened to hours of VPR classical. And when I had nothing left to occupy me, I watched my belly contort as the baby squirmed and kicked with alarming new power.

Finally, I remembered I had baby books to read. Here's the rundown of my bedside titles. 

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Farming, Feathers and Frozen Domes: A Weekend Preview

Posted By on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 at 11:46 AM

COURTESY OF NOFA-VT
  • Courtesy of NOFA-VT

An eclectic offering of events this weekend ensures there's something to satisfy every member of the family. Plus, snow is on the way!

  • While adults attend the Northeast Organic Farming Association's winter conference on Saturday and Sunday at UVM's Davis Center in Burlington, kids ages 6 to 12 can enjoy some agricultural workshops of their own at the children's conference. Activities include working with wool, creating a community art project with local artist Bonnie Acker, writing songs with children's musician Chris Dorman and taking an outdoor Earth Walk. Walk-in registrations are welcome for both kids and adults, and full scholarships are available.

  • Families take an early morning walk through snowy woods to look for feathered friends at the Backyard Bird Count
    COURTESY OF GREEN MOUNTAIN AUDUBON CENTER
    • Courtesy of Green Mountain Audubon Center
     at the Green Mountain Audubon Center in Huntington. It's part of an annual event across North America that aims to provide a real-time snapshot of where birds are. On Sunday, the North Branch Nature Center in Montpelier also has a birding walk as part of this national bird census.

  • Always wanted to try your hand at constructing an igloo? Head to the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich on Saturday for its annual Igloo Build, an all-day workshop led by snow structure aficionado Dr. Bert Yankielun — who literally wrote the book on igloo making. 

  • COURTESY OF MONTSHIRE MUSEUM
    • Courtesy of Montshire Museum
    For little love bugs looking to extend Valentine's Day, Shelburne Museum offers "I Heart Art,"  an afternoon event with tasty treats and heart-themed jewelry making, in the Pizzagalli Center classroom.

  • The forecast calls for a thick coating of snow on the ground for Sunday's Wintervale at Burlington's Intervale. Families can enjoy free ski and snowshoe rentals, kids' activities and yummy local food. 

  • Looking for some indoor fun on Sunday afternoon? Head to the Integrated Arts Academy in Burlington for its Community Arts Day and Silent Auction. Parents can listen to local musicians and bid on auction items while kids in grades K-5 enjoy free workshops with Davis Studio, Very Merry Theatre, Jeh Kulu Dance and Drum Theater and other groups.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Home Cookin': Pancakes for Dinner

Posted By on Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 10:02 AM

As an elementary school student in suburban New York in the 1980s, one of my favorite cafeteria meals was Brunch for Lunch. Once a month, we’d get a sometimes crunchy, sometimes soggy waffle served with a couple of links of pork sausage, both items drenched in a decidedly not-from-Vermont maple syrup. 

A childhood friend whose daughter now attends our alma mater reported to me that the 2014 version of Brunch For Lunch includes updated options like frittatas, whole wheat waffles and turkey sausage.

Some things have changed, but others remain the same — the novelty of having one meal in place of another still gives me a thrill.

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That’s why when I came across “Not Just for Breakfast Anymore," a New York Times Magazine feature by Mark Bittman about savory pancakes, I couldn’t wait to give the recipe a whirl. My mouth watered as I read how Bittman whipped up a quick batter, added scallops, onion, parsley, salt and chile, fried it all up in olive oil and finished the pancakes off with a squeeze of lemon. In the article, he gives more than a dozen recommendations for other savory pancake ingredient combinations.

Most of them are a little too exotic for my 4-year-old son, Theo, and 6-year-old daughter, Mira, so I took the concept and adapted it to my kids’ palates. I cut up bell pepper and slices of ham, chopped up some chick peas, thawed out some frozen peas and corn and grated a little mild cheddar cheese, then put each ingredient in a small bowl. For me and my husband, Jeff, I included some bay shrimp, grape tomatoes and caramelized onions. Making the batter was simple — just eggs, milk and flour.

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Bump on a Blog: 28 Weeks Later

Posted By on Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 9:23 PM

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OK, people. It's been 28 weeks. I have officially begun the third trimester. The bump is growing. The kicks are intensifying. Sometimes, when I look down at my shape-shifting belly while the baby is squirming, I feel like the guy in Alien just before the hideous beast bursts from his chest. It's that freaky.

I intended to write about daycare today. The plan was to start researching post-maternity-leave options over the weekend. But I took one look at this overwhelming website — which lists hundreds of childcare providers throughout the state — and wanted to collapse in a heap on the floor. 

Instead, I went cross-country skiing. 

Every week on this blog, I fight the urge to simply catalog my latest pregnancy woes. But today, in the name of presenting an accurate portrait of pregnancy — and despite the cheery skiing photo — I'm giving in to temptation.

I feel like a zombie. Last night was an insomnia horror show. I watched the minutes tick by while I flopped from side to side, arranging and rearranging my assortment of between-the-legs and under-the-belly pillows. The air in my apartment was so dry it felt like I was inhaling broken glass.

Staying awake all night makes me hungry, and hunger makes me nauseated. So I ransacked the fridge for suitable snacks. Nothing satisfied me; it just gave me heartburn. So I sucked down some Tums and went back to bed. Finally, around 6 a.m. I nodded off into a hyper-vivid pregnancy dream in which I cowered in a corner as a guest at my wedding threw a punch at my giant belly. 

I awoke an hour later with a full-blown head cold. 

I know, I know: All this is preparing me for the exhaustion of raising a child. But that doesn't make it any easier. This baby-making business is no joke. 

Megan James is the managing editor of Kids VT. She'll be blogging about her pregnancy until the baby arrives — hopefully in early May.

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Smugglers' Notch Resort

Smugglers' Notch Resort

Smugglers' Notch, VT

Smugglers’ Notch Vermont, America’s Family Resort is internationally recognized as a leader in children’s programs! Recently voted the #1 Kid-Friendly Resort in the East, this Summer, Smugglers’ is inviting Vermont kids to experience supervised programs in the Green Mountains with fun and adventure at the core! Four unique tracks are…(more)

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